Oxford is a great college town as well as an international tourist attraction.
Below are just a few of the things UGA at Oxford participants can do when the books are put away:
- Attend a play: Whether it's professional, amateur, or student, classical, popular, or avant-garde, there's always a production in progress. Shakespeare adaptations are a favorite.
- Listen up: Punk, folk, classical, religious, alternative - it's all playing. If you're truly adventurous, sidle up to the karaoke machine at a pub and make your own contribution to the local scene.
- Attend a service: Oxford has many Church of England (Anglican) congregations; a list of other local denominations, synagogues, and mosques is available from program staff.
- Check out a museum: The Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers are local landmarks, featuring paintings, sculpture, local and natural history, and antique scientific equipment. Museum web sites: http://www.museums.co.uk
- Catch a movie: Two local theatres and occasional festivals showcase British, American, and foreign films.
- Shop: Oxford is a paradise of bookstores, both new and used. To visit one of the largest and most celebrated, click here: http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/stores/oxford-bookshop/ Thrift and vintage clothing are well-represented, too, as are CD and vinyl shops and fairs. Warning: Past experience indicates that this is a dangerous pastime for students' wallets and carry-on luggage allowances!
- Go punting: What could be more romantic, more scholarly, more Oxford than boating on the Thames? Tip: Pick a (relatively) warm day. People have been known to fall in.
- Rent a bike: The Oxfordshire countryside is an attraction in itself. Example: Blenheim Palace, about eight miles away, is England's largest private residence (home of the Ninth Duke of Marlborough), as well as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
- Go to London: A round-trip bus ticket is about six pounds; the trip takes an hour and a half each way and can be made at almost any hour of the day or night.
If you can't wait until you get to Oxford, here are a few ways to get to know the city before you go.
Read a book:
- The novels included within the "Inspector Morse" mystery series by Oxford native Colin Dexter are all set around town (locals), with a healthy dose of gown (faculty types) thrown in. Start with the novel in which Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis first appear on the scene, Last Bus to Woodstock.
- Philip Pullman's celebrated trilogy, His Dark Materials, introduces readers to both a realistic and fantastic Oxford that promises to enrich any visitor to the city's imagination.
- Novelist, biographer, and royal relative Lady Antonia Fraser is the author of Oxford Blood; I haven't read it, but I assume it's a mystery.
- American Peter Feiler spent a year at Cambridge, dated a Canadian Rhodes Scholar studying at Oxford, and tells us all about it in Looking for Class: My Search for Wisdom and Romance at Oxford and Cambridge. This book is both informative and hilarious.
- The Children of Men by P.D. James differs from most books set in Oxford, which tend to relate a story in the present that's saturated with atmosphere from the city's past. This instead is a very futuristic thriller in which a divorced Oxford faculty member saves the human race (but is he late for tutorial?)
See a movie:
- The Saint, staring Val Kilmer as international thief Simon Templar, has a lot of footage set in Oxford. In fact, the Radcliffe Square of the Bodleian Library probably vies with Red Square in Moscow for the most on-screen time.
- Shadowlands is the weepie of this list. Anthony Hopkins stars as Oxford professor and Christian fantasy author (hint: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) C.S. Lewis. Debra Winger is the American poet who steals his heart.
- Then there's the pop classic Oxford Blues: Rob Lowe is an American who rows crew and generally gets into trouble. Ally Sheedy co-stars.
- The Inspector Morse mystery series (see above) has also spawned a series of television movies, usually available on public broadcasting or A&E.
- Finally, although no scenes in The Madness of King George are depicted as taking place in Oxford, several were shot there in the summer of 1994.
Culture and Entertainment in England:
- http://www.museums.co.uk offers a comprehensive listing of museum websites and information for England.
- The Royal Shakespeare Company main site. Information and online booking for the world's leading Shakespeare company.
- Shakespeare's Globe main site. A recently-opened reconstruction of William Shakespeare's Globe theater featuring performances, tours, and educational programs.
General Information on Britain and Study Abroad:
- The British Council -- USA
- Council on International Educational Exchange
- Institute of International Education
- US Department of State Travel Information
- The World at Your Fingertips
More things to do in Oxford (other than studying):